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Pigeon Amazing Facts

30 Amazing and Interesting Facts about Pigeon | Amazing Facts 4U 

  1. The word ‘pigeon’ comes from the Latin word ‘pipio’, meaning ‘young bird’. The word then passed into Old French as ‘pijon’ and later on the English name ‘pigeon’ was derived.
  2. Pigeons and humans have in fact lived in close proximity for thousands of years.
  3. During human history the pigeon has adopted many roles ranging from symbols of gods and goddesses through to sacrificial victims, messengers, pets, food and even war heroes!
  4. Pigeons are incredibly complex and intelligent animals. They are one of only species to pass the ‘mirror test’, which is a test of self recognition.
  5. They can also recognize each letter of the alphabet, differentiate between photographs, and can even distinguish different humans within a photograph.
  6. Pigeons are renowned for their outstanding navigational abilities. They in fact use the sun as a guide and also have an internal ‘magnetic compass’. They are known to use landmarks as signposts and will travel along man-made roads and motorways, even changing direction at junctions.
  7. Pigeons can travel 400-600 miles away from its home and can amazingly return within the day.
  8. The earliest large scale communication network using pigeons as messengers was established in Syria and Persia around the 5th century BC.
  9. In the 12th century AD, the city of Baghdad and all the main towns and cities in Syria and Egypt were linked by messages carried by pigeons. This was in fact the sole source of communication.
  10. In Roman times the pigeon was used to carry results of sporting events, such as the Olympic Games, and this is why white doves are released at the start of the Olympic Games today.
  11. In India during British times pigeon post service was very active. Amazingly, the last ‘pigeon post’ service was abandoned in India only in 2004.
  12. Amazingly pigeons can fly at altitudes up to and beyond 6000 feet, and at an average speed of 77.6 mph. The fastest recorded speed is 92.5 mph.
  13. Pigeons are highly sociable animals often seen in flocks of 20-30 birds.
  14. The pigeon mates for life and can breed up to 8 times a year bringing two young into the world each time. Eggs take about 18 days to hatch.
  15. Young dependant pigeons are known as ‘squabs’ which are ready to leave the nest at about two months of age.
  16. Both female and male pigeons share responsibility of caring for and raising young. Both sexes take turn incubating the eggs and both feed the chicks ‘pigeon milk’, a special secretion from the lining of the crop which both sexes produce.
  17. Pigeons have excellent hearing abilities detecting sounds at far lower frequencies than humans are able to. They can hear distant storms and volcanoes.
  18. The pigeon has side mounted eyes, unlike humans and owls which have forward facing eyes. As pigeons have monocular vision rather than binocular vision they have to bob their heads for depth of perception.
  19. Though believed to be dirty and disease ridden, pigeons are actually very clean animals and they are not  significant transmitters of any disease.
  20. Pigeon droppings (guano)  were  seen as extremely valuable few centuries ago. It was viewed as the best available fertiliser and armed guards would even stand by pigeon houses to stop others taking the droppings.
  21. In England in the 16th century pigeon guano was the only known source of saltpetre, an essential ingredient of gunpowder.
  22. In both the First and Second World Wars the pigeon saved thousands of human lives by carrying messages across enemy lines. Pigeons were carried on ships in convoys and in the event of a U-boat attack a messenger pigeon was released with details of the location of the sinking ship.
  23. Pigeons are fed by many members of different religions including Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs for spiritual reasons.  In the Christian religion the pigeon is both a symbol of peace and of the Holy Spirit.
  24. During the First World War a pigeon named Cher Ami (dear friend) saved the lives of many French soldiers by carrying a message across enemy lines in the heat of battle. It was shot in the chest and the leg, losing most of the leg to which the message was attached, but continued the half hour flight to get the message home. It was awarded the French ‘Croix de Guerre’ medal for heroic service.
  25. During the second world war heroic pigeon named G.I. Joe saved the lives of a thousand soldiers after British troops had established a position within an Italian town that was due to be bombed. Communication equipment was down. Message was hastily written and sent through G.I. Joe which flew 20 miles in 20 minutes arriving at the air base whilst the planes were taxiing on the runway. Disaster was averted with 5 minutes to spare. G.I. Joe received the ‘Dickin’ medal for his bravery.
  26. One of the richest and most famous families in the world , Rothschild family amassed its wealth, certainly in part, as a result of exploiting the pigeon. In the early 1800s they used pigeons to carry information between its financial houses in Europe. This method proved to be quicker and more efficient and the ability to send and receive information ahead of the competition helped them amass a vast fortune.
  27. One of the most famous royals being a fan of humble pigeon is Queen Elizabeth of England who has lofts and pigeon keepers at her estate in Sandringham, Norfolk.
  28. The greatest disaster to befall the species was the extermination of the passenger pigeon in North America in the early 20th century. There were estimated 3-5 billion passenger pigeons in North America and flocks of thousands of birds would blacken the skies as they flew over. Overhunting resulted in wiping out every last bird by 1914.
  29. A recent and quite bizarre disaster befell about 60000 of racing pigeons released from Nantes in France as part of a race held to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Pigeon Racing Association in England. Only a few birds ever arrived back at their lofts throughout southern England. Possibly the sonic boom created by Concorde as it flew over the English Channel, at that time disorientated the birds and their inbuilt navigation system.
  30. Racing pigeons can be worth huge sums of money. One racing pigeon recently sold for a staggering $132,517.00! The 3 year old bird was a champion racer, beating 21,000 other pigeons in one long distance race. British company buying it breeds racing pigeons for ‘stud’.

By Amazing Facts 4U Team

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